Make your breast augmentation experience as positive as possible by preparing yourself for the weeks leading up to your surgery. With these handy tips and suggestions, you'll know what to do and when.
A month before breast augmentation surgery
A month before your surgery, you'll need some preparation and short-term conditioning, including:
- Menstrual cycle. If your period is due around the time of your scheduled surgery date, tell your surgeon. Some surgeons do not like operating if the patient is menstruating, while others don't mind. Also, some surgeons prefer you use a maxi pad versus a tampon during surgery.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, quit for four to six weeks before breast augmentation surgery. If you cannot stop, cut back as much as you possibly can. This recommendation is especially true if you have a breast lift. Smoking reduces the oxygen levels in the blood, which will inhibit healing. In patients having breast lifts, this could lead to necrosis (tissue death).
- Build abdominal strength. Do abdominal exercises to help strengthen your core muscles. You will be using them a lot after surgery, so the stronger they are, the better. Also, stretching your upper body, as well as strength training with low weights, will help with your posture and strength level.
- Find a support person. You will need someone to take you to the surgical facility and home after breast augmentation surgery. He or she will also stay with you for at least 24 hours, and ideally during the first 48 hours. You won’t know the extent of your physical limitations until after the surgery, and you need someone who will ensure your comfort and safety.
- Eat clean. Maintain a well-balanced, nutritious diet both before and after your breast augmentation to promote proper healing and reduce recovery time.
- Treat illness quickly! If you are ill, even from something such as a sinus infection or cold, address it immediately. An illness could postpone your surgery. Patients must be in good health before a breast augmentation to prevent complications.
- Get tested. Get your pre-operative tests out of the way, including a mammogram, (required for women who are older than 30 years old). Test results must be in your surgeon's office no later than three days before your pre-operative visit.
- Get time off work. You'll need an average of 5-7 days to recover before you can return to work, more if you have a physically demanding job. Ask your surgeon how long you should take off based on your occupation, and find out what physical limitations you may have on the job when you do return.
Two to three weeks before breast augmentation surgery
Spend these weeks doing the following:
- Shop for your post-surgical bra. While you'll receive a post-operative bra right after surgery, many women purchase a more comfortable bra or camisole and a tank top (with built-in bras, of course) that they can wear for the first four to six weeks. Get recommendations from your surgeon on what offers the most support without sacrificing comfort.
- Take it easy. It's time to relax a little. Avoid exercises that could lead to shoulder, back, neck, arm, pectoral or abdominal injury.
- Stay healthy. Guard yourself against illness by frequently washing your hands and staying away from large crowds or those who are ill.
- Take inventory. Tell your surgeon about all medications, herbs or supplements you are taking, including birth control. They will likely advise you to stop taking these for at least two weeks before your surgery, as they can increase your risk of bleeding and other complications. Some surgeons recommend not taking them for 30 days before surgery, so check with your surgeon regarding the types of medications you need to avoid.
- Inquire. Ask your surgeon if you can take Mountain arnica (Arnica Montana) for bruising and swelling after the surgery. Ask your surgeon about this before surgery, and only take it with their approval.
- Put down alcohol. For two weeks before breast augmentation surgery, you will want to refrain from drinking alcohol. Alcohol weakens your immune system, thins your blood and dries out your skin. You want your skin to be lax enough during surgery to stretch over your implants and soft for effective suturing.
The week of breast augmentation surgery
In this final week of preparation, get ready for these last minute to-dos:
- Fill those prescriptions. Your surgeon will give you prescriptions before surgery, so get them filled now. Ask your surgeon if he will prescribe anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication to take the night or morning of surgery. Anti-nausea medication can prevent vomiting brought on by anesthesia, while anti-anxiety medication will relax you.
- Form new sleeping habits. Practice sleeping on your back, sides and/or propped up on pillows, because you will be sleeping like this for approximately six weeks after your surgery.
- Stock up on entertainment. You won’t feel like doing much of anything for the first few days or even a week after breast augmentation surgery, so have a good supply of magazines, books, and movies on hand. Comedies are not recommended, especially if you have implants placed under the muscle, because they make you laugh, which causes your pectoral muscles to tighten/contract.
- Shave early. Since you must avoid lifting your arms above your shoulders after surgery—this could lead to your surgical incision opening—and will be in no condition to bend low or hunch over, you may wish to shave your underarms and any other regions at this time. Shaving results in mini abrasions to the skin that can boost bacterial levels and your risk for infection, which is why it is best to do this well before your augmentation. If you are having an armpit incision (transaxillary) or navel incision (transumbilical), you need to shave two or more days before.
- Avoid pregnancy. Breast augmentation cannot be performed on a woman who is pregnant, so a pregnancy test will be performed before surgery. If it turns out you are pregnant, you will need to wait to have your breast augmentation six months after you've finished breastfeeding.
A few days before breast augmentation surgery
This is the time to prepare your house and stock up on the following necessities:
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water in the days before your surgery; doing so may help ward off nausea after your augmentation.
- Get the cotton nightgown ready. Have easy-to-wear clothes ready, including button-up shirts, leggings, and your comfiest pajamas. Consider stacking everything up on your dresser or nightstand to minimize strain on your arms opening and closing drawers.
- Clean the house. Clean your house and do all your laundry a day or two before your surgery, so you don't have to worry about it for a while after your breast augmentation.
- Tuck those elbows. Walk through your house with your elbows held close to your sides to give you an idea of how you'll feel for the first few days after surgery.
- Move things lower. Anything you cannot reach, such as snacks and dishes, you will need to move to a more accessible location.
- Shop for groceries. Go grocery shopping, enough to last a couple of weeks. In case you don’t have much of an appetite during post-op, stock up on simple and light foods such as crackers, pudding, soup, applesauce, fruit, etc. Nutritional drinks can give you the vitamins and nutrients your body needs if you really don't feel like eating anything.
- Get fruity, not leafy. Buy four bags of frozen fruit (vegetables smell bad when they start thawing) to use for swelling. Two of these bags can be kept in the freezer while you are using the other two. You can also use crushed ice in a Ziploc bag or purchase reusable ice packs from the drugstore.
- Stay moisturized. Purchase a vitamin-rich body cream or lotion to use on your breasts before and after surgery to help prevent breast stretch marks and soothe dry, itchy breasts caused by stretching of the skin. If you use it after surgery and have nipple or crease incisions, take good care not to get lotion on your incisions until they close entirely; otherwise, you risk getting an infection.
- Notify all relevant persons. If you are staying at a hotel for the first 24 to 48 hours after your breast augmentation procedure, you will want to call and make sure they are prepared for your arrival. Also, ensure your contact person is on the same page with you and understands all of your post-operative needs and instructions.
The day before breast augmentation surgery
This is the final stretch of your highly-anticipated journey! If you remain focused, you can finish out strong by doing the following:
- Get a hot compress. You'll want a heating pad after breast augmentation. Place it near your couch or bed for your back, as it may get sore due to your sleeping positions post-op, Do not put a heating pad on your breasts. They will most likely be numb, and you could inadvertently burn yourself.
- Put your surgeon on speed dial. Make sure you have your surgeon’s phone number, as well as emergency and/or after-hours numbers, stored into your cell phone and posted next to any landlines.
- Nail polish? Remove it. Remove any nail polish from your fingers and toes. Your surgeon sometimes monitors your oxygen levels by looking at the color of your nail bed.
- Don't forget to document it. Take some “before” photos from the front and sides so you can document the change.
- Use the recommended soap. Use the surgical soap provided by your surgeon the night before and the morning of your surgery.
- Put the snacks down. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Sleep. Get plenty of rest and relaxation the night before your expected surgery.
The day of breast augmentation surgery
All your preparation has led to this day. Here's what you need to do just before your procedure:
- Prepare multiple rest areas. Put clean sheets and pillowcases on your bed. Make up your couch with sheets, blankets, and pillows so you have multiple places to rest.
- Stay clean. Take a shower and wash your hair.
- Stay comfortable. Wear loose-fitting clothes to surgery. A button-down or zip-up top with leggings and slip-on shoes are preferable.
- Remove all non-essentials. Remove makeup, body piercings, jewelry, hair clips, and contact lenses.
- Keep your security pillow on-hand. Take a pillow with you for the ride home, for added comfort.
- Remind your surgeon. Reiterate to your surgeon the details of your augmentation, such as your implant type, size, etc.
Get more tips before your procedure
Our Breast Augmentation Forum is a community of real women who are either gearing up for the surgery or who've gone through it. Join the newbies group as they embrace each other's questions and concerns, then dip into deeper waters with seasoned members who have major insights to glean from.
Take this thread, for example. An elite member put together a pre- and post-breast augmentation checklist of things she couldn't live without, things she wishes she knew before, and tips learned along the way. More than 800 comments have since been made, with one woman saying, "I have never even heard of some of these things. I'm so happy I came across this."